Tennis shoes and bubble gum
I had a great EM resident coming to California from the East Coast to interview for a position at one of our prestigious facilities with a very selective administration. I stressed that he “dress appropriately” and reviewed interview etiquette with him. I had not met Dr. “T” in person and was to pick him up from the hotel the morning of the interview. I was confident I had briefed him well—that is until I met him in the lobby. He was wearing very nice dress slacks, a long-sleeved button-down dress shirt…and brand new white tennis shoes! We were going to stop for coffee to review the itinerary for the day. As I drove to the local Starbucks, I was frantically trying to figure out how I was going to tell this physician the tennis shoes were a no-no. I decided on a direct approach—“What’s with the tennis shoes?” He was a little shocked, but told me he wanted to make a good first impression and heard everyone in California wore tennis shoes. Dr. “T” said he bought those just for
the interview and that he doesn’t normally wear tennis shoes. If I would have allowed him to interview that way, the hospital’s response would have been “Thanks but no thanks”. Within the first few seconds of meeting someone new, you are evaluated, and 93 percent of how you are perceived is based on appearance and body language. Only 7 percent is based on the words you speak or the CV you carry. That first impression will follow you for a long time, hence the expression, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” As a new resident meeting prospective employers for the first time, how will you be evaluated?
Overconfidence, bad manners and sloppy attire are mistakes that you cannot afford to make. The best way to get the offer is to back up your skill set and experience with a first impression that leaves no doubt that you are the right candidate for the position.
As for Dr. “T”, we were able to find an outlet mall where he bought shoes that were appropriate for the interview. However, he did not get the job—I forgot to tell him not to wear white socks!
Larry Wills has been a medical recruiter for 29 years, for the Air Force and Fischer Mangold before joining TeamHealth. Wills has spent 20 years recruiting specifically for emergency physicians.